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Davis v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 24, 2017

SUZANN (SAVAGE) DAVIS APPELLANT
v.
CHARLES GREGORY DAVIS APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/12/2015

         DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. VICKI B. DANIELS.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JERRY WESLEY HISAW M.W. ZUMMACH.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: A.E. (RUSTY) HARLOW JR. DALANEY LEE MECHAM KATHI CRESTMAN WILSON.

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.

          FAIR, J.

         ¶1. Suzann and Greg Davis were divorced on June 10, 2011, on the ground of irreconcilable differences. They entered into a property, child-support, and child-custody agreement, with Suzann retaining physical custody of all three children. Suzann did not request Greg pay child support. The judgment was later modified by agreement on November 14, 2012, and July 16, 2013, after Suzann moved from Southaven, Mississippi, to South Carolina. Both judgments were consent orders approved by the chancellor.

         ¶2. In the 2012 judgment, both parties agreed that Greg would pay $1, 850 a month in child support. The 2013 judgment awarded custody of Greg and Suzann's middle child to Greg, with the other two children remaining with Suzann. Visitation was modified and set out in detail. Monthly child support payable from Greg to Suzann was set at $1, 000 per month, to increase automatically to $1, 750 should the middle child move in with her mother and become enrolled as a full-time student (which did not occur). Specifically included in the order was their agreement that "[t]he payment of said child support shall constitute [Greg's] only obligation for support of the children to [Suzann]." The children's medical expenses - not paid by insurance and maintained by Greg - were to continue to be Greg's obligation, but any expenses not covered by insurance because they were "out of network" would be shared equally. Greg would refinance or sell the former marital home, to be quitclaimed to him by Suzann, within ninety days.

         ¶3. In 2014, Greg was convicted of criminal charges of making a false representation with the intent to defraud the government and embezzlement. A couple of weeks later, Suzann filed for further modification of physical custody and for contempt on Greg's part for missing required payments, including monthly alimony payments, which he had not paid for a year. Greg answered and sought modification of child support based on the expected emancipation of the oldest child or, in the alternative, based on the fact that she refused to have any relationship with him.

         ¶4. On October 12, 2015, the chancellor entered an order denying all relief sought by Suzann. The chancellor found that a $30, 000 payment made by Greg to Suzann right after the original divorce was entered had satisfied the $27, 600 due for unpaid monthly lump-sum alimony payments of $2, 300 for the twelve months prior to entry of the order. The remaining sum of $2, 400 would reduce the total balance due, but not take the place of the upcoming payment (the original divorce property settlement contained provision for payment of $313, 200 as lump-sum alimony payable in installments of $2, 300 per month). The order recited that any future payments to Suzann not otherwise provided for, such as medical and/or college expenses, would be credited to the end of the lump-sum alimony term. Monthly payment of $2, 300 remained an obligation of Greg. "For clarification purposes" the chancellor specifically found that Greg was not relieved of half the children's college and medical expenses.

         ¶5. In recalculating Greg's payments under Mississippi Code Annotated section 43-19-101 (Rev. 2015), the chancellor found that his child-support obligation for the two children living with Suzann was $1, 196 a month - twenty percent of Greg's monthly income. The chancellor then ordered Suzann to pay support for her child still living with Greg in the amount of $632 - fourteen percent of her monthly income. Offsetting the payments, Greg's obligation for child support was reduced to $564 per month. Finally, it was provided that child support would be modified upon the oldest child becoming emancipated. ¶6. From that order and opinion Suzann appeals, asserting that the chancellor erred: (1) in modifying support, there having been no material change in Greg's circumstances since child support was reviewed and included in the agreed modification judgment of July 2013; and (2) in failing to order that Greg pay attorney's fees and expenses for his contempt.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7. The standard of review in domestic-relations cases is limited. In re Dissolution of Marriage of Wood, 35 So.3d 507, 512 (¶8) (Miss. 2010). A chancellor's factual findings will not be disturbed unless manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or an erroneous legal standard was applied. Carambat v. Carambat, 72 So.3d 505, 510-11 (¶24) (Miss. 2011). As long as substantial evidence supports the chancellor's findings, an appellate court is without authority to disturb them, even if it would have found otherwise as an original matter. Joel v. ...


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